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January 27, 2015 / 7 Shevat, 5775
 
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Yoram Ettinger: Purim Guide for the Perplexed 2012


The Triumph of Mordechai by Pieter Lastman

The Triumph of Mordechai by Pieter Lastman

*In Gimatriya, “Cursed Haman” (ארור המן) equals “Blessed Mordechai” ברוך מרדכי), 502).

7. Queen Esther, the heroine of Purim’s Esther Scroll (the 24th and concluding book in the Hebrew Bible) was Mordechai’s niece. One cannot comprehend Purim without studying the Esther Scroll. Esther demonstrates the centrality of women in Judaism, shaping the future of the Jewish People, as did Sarah, Rebecca, Miriam, Batyah, Deborah, Hannah, etc. Sarah was the first Jewish woman, and Esther was the last Jewish woman, mentioned in the Hebrew Bible. Sarah lived 127 years and Esther ruled over 127 countries.

*The name Esther (אסתר)is a derivative of the Hebrew word הסתר – “clandestine”, “hidden”, “subtle”, which was reflective of her (initially) unknown Jewish identity and subtle-style at the royal court. The name Esther is also a derivative of Ishtar – a Mesopotamian goddess, and Astarte – a Phoenician goddess.

*The one day pre-Purim Fast of Esther (commemorating the three day fast declared by Esther in order to expedite deliverance), was cherished by the Marano in Spain, who performed Judaism in a clandestine manner.

*The Scroll of Esther is the only book in the Hebrew Bible, in which God’s name is hidden/absent. It has been suggested that the explicit name of God is absent because the Scroll of Esther is the only book in the Hebrew Bible, which deals exclusively with the Diaspora and not with the Land of Israel. According to Michael Bernstein, the noun “King” appears 182 times in the Esther Scroll, which is the total sum of 26 (numerical value of God) times 7 (days of creation). Esther’s second name was Hadassah, whose root is Hadass (myrtle tree in Hebrew) ¬ which constitutes a metaphor for eyesight 20:20.

*The name Esther is identified with the planet Venus (hence, Esther’s other Hebrew name – Noga, a glaring divine light, which is Venus in Hebrew). In Gimatriya, Esther (אסתר) and Noga (נגה) equal 661 and 58 respectively, and the sum of 6+6+1 and 5+8 is 13 (the number of God’s virtues). In “small Gimatriya” both Esther (1+6+4+2) and Noga (5+3+5) equal 13, which is also the total sum of one in Hebrew (אחד) – which represents monotheism, as well as the total sum of love in Hebrew (אהבה).

8. The Persian King appointed Mordechai to be his top advisor, overruling Haman’s intent to prevent the resettling of Jews in Zion, the reconstruction of the Temple, and the restoration of the wall around Jerusalem. He foiled Haman’s plan to exterminate the Jews. The king prospered as a result of his change of heart and escaped assassination. That was the case with Pharaoh, who escaped national collapse and starvation and rose in global prominence, once he appointed Joseph to be his deputy.

9. Purim’s four commandments:

*Reading/studying the “Esther Scroll” within the family, highlighting the centrality of family, education, memory and youth as the foundation for a solid future.

*Gifts to relatives and friends emphasize the importance of family and community.

*Charity (at least the value of a meal) reflects compassion and communal responsibility. According to Maimonides, “there is no greater or more glorious joy than bringing joy to the poor.”

*Celebration and Happiness sustains optimism and faith – the backbone of individuals and nations.

10. Lethal enemy destroyed and lethal threat commemorated. The pre-Purim Sabbath is called “Memorial Sabbath” (שבת זכור), commemorating the war of extermination launched by the Amalekites against the Jewish Nation, since the Exodus from Egypt.

A Purim lesson: Be wary of enemies, posing as partners of peace, concealing a strategic goal of extermination.

 

Originally published at http://www.theettingerreport.com/Jewish-Holidays/Purim-Guide-for-the-Perplexed-2012.aspx

About the Author: Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger is consultant to Israel’s Cabinet members and Israeli legislators, and lecturer in the U.S., Canada and Israel on Israel’s unique contributions to American interests, the foundations of U.S.-Israel relations, the Iranian threat, and Jewish-Arab issues.


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